The Thanksgiving Pie Roundup
The Midwestern Gentleman (a born and bred Minnesotan) and I baked pies as our contribution to a spectacular Thanksgiving dinner at my boss’s house. Inspired by H.’s description of a “crimson pie” that her brother-in-law makes, I pulled together a recipe that combined all the taste elements that tickled my palate’s fancy: antioxidant-rich, deeply flavorful cranberries and blueberries, cinnamon for spice, and orange zest for a mellow citrusy note. Instead of defaulting to the same old lattice crust, I love dressing up berry pies by cutting out pieces of dough with cookie cutters. I got a little silly this year, because I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use a new moose-shaped cookie cutter. This crimson pie is tart and tangy, so if you’re sensitive to tart fruit, you might want to adjust the proportion of blueberry to cranberry. Being a frugal Yankee, I wanted this recipe to use one entire bag of cranberries and one entire bag of (store-bought) frozen blueberries. If you freeze your own berries, or have other recipes on hand to use up the leftover berries, then feel free use more blueberries and less cranberries to sweeten the deal.
While my crimson pie was a new experiment, the Midwestern Gentleman turned to the traditional Thanksgivings of his childhood for inspiration. He baked a sour cream and raisin pie, using a recipe handed down from his great-grandmother. I had never even heard of sour cream and raisin pie, but a little research found that this is a very popular Midwestern pie that traces its origins to Minnesota. It often has a soft meringue topping, but the Midwestern Gentleman prefers his without it (a huge relief to me, since I am not a fan of squishy meringue). The sour cream custard of this pie is delicately spiced with cinnamon and clove — absolutely delicious!
12 oz. package fresh cranberries
16 oz. package frozen blueberries
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat.
Stirring occasionally, cook for 12-15 minutes, until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue to boil for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour filling into a bowl and let cool completely before making pie.
For egg wash:
1 – 2 Tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out pie crust and fit into a 9 or 9 1/2-inch pie plate.
Pour the filling into the crust and top with a lattice, or use cookie cutters to cut out fanciful shapes for the top crust.
Beat the egg until smooth, brush onto the top crust, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 60-70 minutes on the upper rack, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. (If you use a 9-inch pie plate, place a baking sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any filling that may bubble over.)
Sour Cream and Raisin Pie
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the crust and fit it into a 9-in pie pan. Place the crust-lined pie pan in the refrigerator while mixing the filling.
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl. In a medium-large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric beaters. Beat in the dry ingredients until smooth.
Gently fold in the raisins and sour cream. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 50-60 minutes, until custard is set and knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.